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Hearts for the Arts awards to recognise politicians who champion local culture

David Lan. Photo: Simon Annand

A new awards ceremony has been launched to celebrate local councils and councillors that champion the arts.

The Hearts for the Arts awards will be handed out to those who have overcome financial hurdles to “ensure the arts stay at the centre of community life”.

More than £56 million of arts funding has been cut by local councils in England since 2009, according to Arts Council England [1].

Prizes handed out at the inaugural ceremony, planned to take place later this year, will include best local authority arts initiative, best local authority arts champion and best local authority arts project.

The awards are the brainchild of culture lobbying groups What Next? and the National Campaign for the Arts, and were announced at a What Next? event in Manchester.

Young Vic artistic director David Lan, who founded What Next?, said Manchester was a “shining example” of a local authority using the arts to lead “the reinvention of a great city”.

He continued: “These awards will draw all our attention to the many examples of councils plugging into the power of the arts to transform communities.”

Samuel West, chair of the National Campaign for the Arts, claimed town halls across the country were “under unprecedented pressure”.

He said: “Budgets are down, demands are up, especially in important areas like social care. Nevertheless, some local authorities still understand the importance of the arts to our well-being, and the value that a small but crucial investment brings.”

“Our Hearts for the Arts awards will honour the incredible people and places that help the arts bring us together, creating sustainable, cohesive communities in challenging times,” he added.

West and Lan will both be on the judging panel for the awards.

Organisers confirmed all winners will be presented with their awards at their local town hall by “one or more renowned artists”, claiming this would be an “excellent” opportunity to get local and national press coverage for their projects.

Public nominations are now open [2] and will close on November 11.